September 9 (Daily reading: Ezekiel 40-42) Ezekiel 39 had ended with God’s promise that he would take his people back to Jerusalem, and that He would pour out His Spirit on them. We can only imagine how the Hebrews in exile in Babylon longed for that day! The temple represented God’s presence and glory among them. They must have thought many times: “If I could only return to Jerusalem and the temple for just one day!” Ezekiel had that opportunity. He had been in captivity for twenty-five years when God took him home to Jerusalem in a vision! He saw the rebuilt temple in great detail and was told the exact measurements of all the walls, pillars, courts, chambers, everything! The temple had been, or would be, destroyed, but no matter, he saw it all in his vision. The vision was not just for him. God told him, “Declare to the house of Israel all that you see” (40:4).
The final chapters of Ezekiel are filled with hope when all seemed so hopeless for the Hebrews in exile. God had told Jeremiah years earlier that their time in Babylon would be seventy years. But he added: “I know the plans that I have for you … to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11). Ezekiel’s vision of the rebuilt temple kept that hope alive. Even as the Hebrews found hope in God’s promise of their return to Jerusalem, we do the same concerning Christ’s promise to return for us. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23). The hope of His return is a “hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (Heb. 6:19). We can endure any hardship, as James advised: “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near” (Jas. 5:8).
– Al Gary